April 13, 2012
Minister of Home Affairs [Mr. Rohee]: Thank you Mr. Speaker. This is my, I believe, ninth or tenth presentation on a national budget, on behalf of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic, in this National Assembly, and I would like to take the opportunity, from the very outset, to congratulate the Minister of Finance and his team for preparing such an excellent piece of work.
I would like to start with some matters which were raised in this House by some Hon. Members which, I believe, should be addressed in an open and frank way. The Hon. Member from Alliance For Change (AFC), I think he is Mr. Trotman… [Hon. Members (Opposition): AFC?] It is the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), sorry… raised a concern about the barricades around the Public Buildings during this period of time when we are discussing the budget and he drew certain parallels with respect to the debates that took place under previous conditions when such a large amount of barricades did not exist around this building. I think basically what he was saying is that we fought for so many years to free up the ambiance around the National Assembly when matters of this type are being debated and now that the PPP/C is in the Government it should be acting in concert with that dispensation that was fought for, for so many years. That is a truism, but what is also true, which I believe is either Mr. Trotman is not aware of it or sought to leave it out as a matter of convenience, is the fact that there have been several debates in this House prior to 1992. I think the Hon. Member, the Attorney General, referred to the various devaluations of the Guyana dollars that took place during budget debates and there were large demonstrations outside the Public Buildings. I happened to be a part of those demonstrations, protesting the devaluations of the Guyana dollar - ten dollars to one dollar, and so forth. I have a publication here. It is called Those Days, extracts of newspapers articles by my good self.
Mr. Speaker: Could we get a copy for the library, here.
Mr. Rohee: Yes, certainly, Mr. Speaker. On the 14th April, 1989, during the course of a demonstration in front of this very building, protestors were arrested by the ranks of the Guyana Police Force. I believe, Mr. Derrick Thompson was the person who arrested me, put me in the hands of ranks of the force and gave me a good thrashing in front of this Parliament Office. Then dragged me on me back to Brickdam Police Station and, again, there, beaten very soundly by the force which I, myself, now lead. History is an interesting phenomenon, because the ranks that carried out that activity I happen now to be in charge of those ranks. I wish to point out that there is no vengeance or vindictiveness that was met, but just to let Mr. Trotman know that when we are speaking of historical experiences we must paint the full picture and, therefore, do not let us come to this honourable House and create the impression that what happened in those days are happening again in these day.
The budget that was presented by the Hon. Minister refers to the security sector. In reference to the security sector, I would wish to make a number of observations. It is true, as the Hon. Member Mr. Felix said, and I do not think that we have a problem with that connotation, which is that every time the Opposition does what it is expected to do, and that is to oppose, as it is expected to… But I want to believe that this time, given the present configuration in the National Assembly, it is likely to go a step further, consistent with the actions that were taken during the consideration of the supplementary provisions in respect of advances made from the Contingencies Fund.
Once again, we heard the old argument that the budget has no vision; the Members of the Opposition are disappointed; that it is demotivating; it has nothing for the poor. For the years that I have sat in this House I have heard those descriptions ad nauseam of budgets which had been presented by the Government. But I would have hoped that with the ushering of the Tenth Parliament and the occupation of the Opposition benches by the APNU that we would have witnessed a much more constructive approach to this matter of national importance. Alas! Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is the more things change, the more they remain the same.
The same spiral, meaningless, hollow political arguments were raised once again, placing us in this humdrum of parliamentary debate reminiscent to the years prior 1992, and even during the period 1993 to current. Take for example, the constant harping on the question of transparency and accountability, are we to understand that transparency and accountability can only be achieved when the Opposition is involved and that transparency and accountability does not lie within the realm of a Government in which ever country it might be? In any event, who say when the Opposition become involve that it will not come with a political agenda as it wants it to be, as an Opposition? Will its agenda be neutral? Will its agenda be altruistic? I respectfully submit that I doubt that. It cannot be.
What is the talk about us working together? When we talk about “working together” we have to establish what the guidelines are, what we are to be guided by, what the benchmarks are and what the criteria are for involvement, unless it is a euphemism for working together. This working together appears to be like Willo the Wisp which has displayed the illusiveness, so characteristic of a process of a type which so many Guyanese seek after.
Are we to understand that nothing will be right unless the Opposition is able to dictate its wins and fancies to the ruling party and the Government? Are we to understand that the AFC/APNU alliance is the sole custodian of transparency and accountability in this country? How can this be when misinformation, distortions and half-truths are being peddled on the ground in contradiction to the programmes and policies adumbrated at the official level of Government by persons who sit in this honourable House when they dish out a menu platitude which has a familiar reminiscent of the 1960s. Where does this take us, in respect of the progressive economic and social political developments in Guyana? This is the question which the Opposition must ask itself and, as Pastor Calvin Heywood, seek to find the answer to life questions.
The Government, for its part, has set out its economic developmental agenda, and it has done so over the years. There is a famous German philosopher by the name of Friedrich Hegel who declared, in a standard triadic form of philosophical logic, that all that is real is rationale and all that is rationale is real. I want to posit that rationale, in the Guyana context, and deem it appropriate, in respect of the Government’s performance vis-a-vis the goods and services to the Guyanese people, is from nothingness, prior to 1992, to the concrete reality in 2012. If per chance this is to be considered an experienced position, then we need to ask ourselves, how do we reconcile that view in what we are told ad nauseam by the Opposition, during this and previous budget debates, that nothing has been achieved in this country, since 1992 in Guyana, under the PPP/Civic?
So we have two extreme positions which require reconciliation. What we are confronted with in this debate is the question of credibility. It is a context of credibility on who will win that matters. It is not necessarily who wins the debate, but who will win in the short, medium and long term in so as the destiny of our country and people is concerned. More importantly, I want to submit that what is more important is what will be the rules of engagement. That is the question. This critical question was touched upon by His Excellency, the President, when he addressed the opening of the Tenth Parliament, when he said, and I quote:
“Indeed, the make-up of this new parliament dictates that we seek consensus and compromise and should resist the temptation to believe that any party can ride rough shod over another. Any such attempt may see us missing the historical opportunities that this new composition offers. I urge that we put the interest of our people first. I urge that we work assiduously to find common ground within and outside this hallowed chamber.”
The President went on to say and I quote:
“As willing however as my government is to exercise patience, forbearance, and reasonableness in the interest of all our people, my administration will not be held ransom to intractable postures.”
It is all about politics. It is the political option that is being resorted to by Opposition to throw dusts in the eyes of the people in an effort to make them believe that the PPP/C’s programmes and policies are not in their interest and that these programmes and policies are solely beneficial to one section of the Guyanese population supportive of the PPP/C. When the Opposition cackles about major developmental projects currently in the pipeline, how are we to interpret it? Take the Marriott Hotel Project, it is all about political posturing. There is nothing of substance in opposing this project. Take the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, it is all about political posturing; there is nothing of substance in opposing this project. Take the new airport project at Timehri, it all about posturing, politically; there is nothing of substance in opposing this project. Take the modern specialty hospital, it is all about political posturing; there is nothing of substance in opposing this project and take the merging of the electricity arrangements at Linden with the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) national grid, it is all about political posturing; there is nothing of substance in opposing this project.
Nothing that the APNU says about the economy is true; it is all about political posturing. Nothing that Opposition says about the social conditions in Guyana is true; it all about political posturing. Nothing that the Opposition says about governance is true; it is all about political posturing. Nothing that Opposition says about economic performance is true; it is all about the efforts of the Opposition to convince the Guyanese people and to engage in political kerfuffle and trickery that the Government is giving them a raw deal and in so doing intentionally depriving them of their rights from entitlements. This is tantamount to executing a national scam. It is like being in a denial mode. In the opposition, it is quite easy to get caught up in the perception syndrome - we were there; we know that - and to seek to make that perception a reality and further to achieve narrow partisan political ends through it.
There is a reality and a reality, but there is one reality that cannot be wished away and that is the reality called “the delivery of basic goods and services”, in many instances, modern goods and services, which the Guyanese people benefit from today. The reality I speak about is about an economy that is dynamic, robust and all¬¬-inclusive. It is an economy that has the people at the centre of development and the private sector in partnership with the state as the engine of growth. This is the living reality that is characterised pragmatism, a population that is highly motivated and energised and many who have hope and confidence in the future, and who have indeed invested in the future of this country that is pregnant with prosperity and revolutionary transformation for all.
Development always poses these challenges. Only recently I was browsing the internet to examine, for example, the challenges which the United States of America faced in associated with the establishment of the railway system and I found an interested paragraph which states, and I quote:
“Although everyone thought that transcontinental railroad was a good idea, deep disagreement arose over it path. The Northern States Union Pacific workers laying rails, October 1866, favoured a northern route while the southern states pushed for a southern route. The logjam was broken in 1961 with the cession of the southern states, from the union, to allow Congress to select a route running through from Nebraska to California.”
This is an interesting story in the history of the railway industry of the United States of America. But the story behind this is that it posed certain developmental challenges at that time in the United States of America and in a similar fashion the developmental challenges that we are confronted here with in Guyana must take into consideration those lessons.
Another interesting experience is the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, linking Manhattan to Brooklyn. According to the information, it states that of all the engineering advances in the 1800s the Brooklyn Bridge stands out as perhaps the most famous and the most remarkable. It took more than a decade to build, caused the life of its designer, and even the son of the designer, and was constantly criticised by sceptics who thought that the entire thing was going to fall into the New York’s eastern river. Many of us - I see it from the immigration records - who travelled to the United States of America regularly… [Interruption] I thought that would have happened, Mr. Speaker. I intentionally said that to heat up the discussion, but many of us who travelled to the United States of America and who crossed the Brooklyn Bridge must bear this experience in mind, that it holds a developmental challenge to it in the same ways that we oppose the developmental challenges in Guyana which is likely to hurt the ire of some persons.
We are optimistic, and what is the source of our optimism? Above all, it is the people of Guyana. That is the source of our optimism - the people of this country. Since 1950, we have been comforted by their confidence. So those who think that the people have let us down on November 28, 2011, better think again, because the fact of the matter is that one hundred and sixty-six thousand one hundred and twenty-seven strong have kept us in the Government. We have no doubt that come the next General or Local Government Election there will be a resurgence like a Tsunami - I am not at a public meeting - and herein lies the source of our optimism.
Transformation process has been proceeding apace inexorably across the institutional landscape of our country. This transformation, or this transformative process, is being driven by us on this side of the House. The Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Prison Service and the Guyana Fire Service, indeed, all law enforcement in general and in specific, are being impacted by this transformative process. This brings me to regional security sector indicators which have looked at Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados and The Bahamas, in respect of the spending of these countries in support of the security sector. The amount allocated for security sector, in US dollars, in Guyana is $77.5 billion, Trinidad and Tobago - $744,000, Jamaica - $146,000, Barbados - $33,000 and in The Bahamas - $209,000.
The populations of these countries vary. Guyana has approximately seven hundred and fifty-four thousand four hundred and ninety-three, Trinidad and Tobago, one million three hundred thousand, Jamaica, two million seven hundred thousand, Barbados two hundred and seventy-three thousand and The Bahamas, three hundred and forty-two thousand. In terms of the allocation of the budget of the projected revenues, in US dollars, for example, the projected revenue which is Gross Domestic Product (GDP), $810 million for Guyana, $6.4 billion for Trinidad and Tobago, $4 billion for Jamaica, $1.2 billion for Barbados and $1.9 billion for The Bahamas.
In terms of the percentage allocated, given these revenue base, Guyana is projected to allocate 9.5 per cent of its revenues to the security sector.
Out of these five countries, Guyana has the lowest revenue base and the smallest GDP per capita. However, Guyana contributes 9.5 per cent of its revenue towards security, Trinidad and Tobago, 11.5 per cent, only a mere two per cent more, even though it has the largest revenue of the five countries. Furthermore, Trinidad and Tobago’s GDP per capita is more than five times higher than that of Guyana’s.
Given the size of our economy, comparing to these other countries, Guyana manages to provide just over US$100 per person for security, while Jamaica spends less than half of that and Barbados spends a miniscule amount. It seems to me that the economy is performing well in terms of its allocations. The Hon. Member Mr. Felix embarked on an analects with respect to the crime situation in Guyana. Well, Mr. Felix was the Commissioner of Police, from 2004 to 2007. [Hon. Members (Opposition): You had fired him in 2006.] It was from 2004 to 2007. I am making my own calculation. You do yours.
There was a twenty-three per cent reduction in the reports of serious crimes, which reduced from four thousand four hundred and forty-two in 2004 to three thousand four hundred and ten in 2007. Prior to that, because we have to make a comparative analysis, from 2001 to 2004, his predecessor, the total amount of serious crimes for the year 2001 was four thousand five hundred and forty-six. There was a seventeen per cent spike in the reports, taking the figure to five thousand three hundred and eight. This was primarily due to the incidence of robberies and murders that were spearheaded mainly by the prison escapees. But effective law enforcement saw the serious crime reduced by sixteen per cent in 2004 from the high figure of five thousand three hundred and eight in 2002.
In 2008, the total report of serious crimes was three thousand six hundred and seventy-five. In 2011, the total report was reduced by three per cent to three thousand five hundred and eighty- three. Therefore the overall assessment of the serious crime situation in the country, from 2001 to 2011, has indicated that the reports were reduced from twenty-one per cent, from four thousand five hundred and forty-six in 2001 to three thousand five hundred and eighty-three in 2011. So when we talk about the crime situation let us not seek to paint a picture on what it was during one time compared to what it was in another time, simply to paint or to create the impression that we were doing well when we were there.
Mr. Felix: Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a Point of Order. The honourable gentleman is imputing that crime rose only in my time. Before my time it was good, in my time it was bad and… [Interruption]…Impossible!
Mr. Rohee: That is the fact.
Mr. Felix: I want those figures because I know that those figures cannot be correct.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member, I think it is well known that numbers are numbers. I do not know whether the Hon. Minister may want to quote the source from some report that he has received, which he is entitled to do. But it is amazing that the same numbers can be looked at in ten different ways. I will monitor the Minister to see if, in any way, your character of stewardship of the force is being impugned.
Mr. Rohee: I stand here as the Minister of Home Affairs and when the Minister of Home Affairs gives figures it is the correct figures. The Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Speaker, with due respect, is never going to mislead this House with figures. These figures are from the Guyana Police Force which the Member once led…[Interruption]…
Mr. Speaker, if I may be allowed to continue, Hon. Member Dr. Roopnarine made reference to his adoration and preference for a new political culture. [Mr. Felix: Are you running from the facts?] I am coming back to it. I think in a very complex way; I am not very straight-headed. The Hon. Member, Dr. Roopnarine, made reference to his adoration and preference for a new political culture. I recognise his consistency as an old campaigner for this much exhorted and lofty idea whose time is yet to come, but could only do so if there is political will. One thing I am sure of, however, is that the new political culture of which the Hon. Member speaks – and I hope not – will not come through a parliamentary dictatorship by establishing dominance of one side over another or by seeking to bludgeon the Government into accepting a new political culture made at Sophia. The Hon. Member must know that the PPP is no stranger to change, adaptation or renewal of itself, the body politics or to the country. The PPP is the Harbindra of Chaurajmah in Guyana. Ever since its establishment in 1950, the PPP has always sought to introduce changes in the political culture in Guyana. It did so in the colonial and post-colonial era. There is no one who can deny that.
I have said it before and I will say it again; the history of the PPP has been one of generosity, compromise and accommodation. At the same time, we have made it clear that while we do not want to dominate, we do not want to be dominated either.
Hon. Member Mr. Roopnarine is probably the most experienced political member leader sitting presently in the Opposition benches. He was once identified as a possible candidate for the Olympics as one of the fastest runners when it was publicly declared that our steel is sharper. [Mr. Trotman: And you were in hiding.] You were with the police. I would not worry with the Hon. Member. He probably was a special agent in the secret service so he knew what I was doing.
Dr. Roopnarine: A Point of Correction: I think my Hon. Friend, colleague and old comrade is misremembering since I was not the Leader of the Working People’s Alliance who was being sent to the Olympics. [Mr. Rohee: You were the co-leader.] I was not being sent to the Olympics.
Mr. Rohee: Mr. Speaker, I said “a possible candidate”. However, thanks to the People’s National Congress (PNC) which was on the throes of economic and political death, just waiting to be consumed by Hades, the god of death and the dead, the Hon. Member was plucked along with his colleague sitting on his right hand from among the chosen few and cast, once again, into the political limelight. We welcome you.
Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member spoke as though it is the PPP alone which must learn from the years of political division in Guyana, just throwing completely out of the window those chapters of our political history which show the real and truthful reasons for division which we live with in this country up to today and which was recently exemplified in the 28th November, 2011 Elections.
I would like to follow on from where my colleagues the Hon. Members, Manzoor Nadir and Mr. Whittaker, left off when they spoke about the demands of the Opposition in pressing for much more than what the Budget 2012 can afford. I think my colleague referred to it earlier, but I will expand a little more on it. The story about the goose that laid the golden egg: the owner of the goose demanded that it laid two eggs rather than one egg each day and when it replied that it could not, the owner and his wife reckoned that there must be much more gold in the belly of the goose. But the goose was hiding the gold and was not being transparent or accounting for the gold. So there was a question of transparency and accountability since those days. The owner of the goose and his wife, being enlightened persons at the time and who wanted accountability and transparency, like in the advertisement, burst the goose’s belly. Rather than waiting each day for one of the golden eggs, they killed the goose, but found no gold hidden in the goose’s stomach. And so, they lost goose and egg like losing corn and husk. What is the morale of this story? The morale of the story can be applied to those who want much more and lose all by trying to outreach themselves. We must learn from these lessons and, like Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing.
The Hon. Member, Mr. Winston Felix, brought into question the role of the Minister of Home Affairs vis-à-vis the Guyana Police Force. I have in my hand, the Discipline Forces Commission Report signed by Justice Ian Neville Chang S.C. At that time he was Justice of Appeal or acting Chief Justice, I believe. In this Report says:
“Section 7 also confers upon the Minister a power to issue general orders and directions to the Commissioner and as rendered the power of the Commissioner subject to such general orders and directions. Since the Minister is extrinsic to the structure and composition of the GPF...”
The power to issue general orders and directions can only be to the Commissioner. The Minister is empowered to issue general orders and directions to the Commissioner. I continue the quote:
“Unlike the Commissioner, the Minister is conferred with a statutory power without a statutory responsibility. But the burden of responsibility always accompanies the conferment of power. The Minister may be without statutory responsibility but this does not at all mean that he has been conferred power without responsibility since he, as the Minister responsible for internal security, bears an executive responsibility to the National Assembly for matters of internal security. It is in recognition and furtherance of this executive responsibility that Parliament has seen it fit to confer upon him the power to give general orders and direction to the Commissioner to which the power of the Commissioner to man and superintend is made subject.”
The Hon. Member raised the question of responsibility for fire hydrants. Apparently he is not familiar with the contents of the same Discipline Services Commission Report. This Report says:
“The legal authority responsible for the maintenance of the hydrants is the City Council. The Guyana Fire Service maintains that its responsibility is limited to the matter of checking on the condition of the hydrants and reporting on the condition of the hydrants to the Minister at the end of each financial year. The Guyana Fire Service contends, however, that it has never been its responsibility to maintain them. The Commission noted that under Section 279 (1) of the Municipal and District Council Act, Cap 28:01, the City Council has the responsibility of providing the city with proper and sufficient water, not only for sanitary and domestic purposes but also for extinguishing fires and is empowered to do and execute all works, matters and things necessary for and incidental to such purposes.”
I rest my case, Mr. Speaker.
The Hon. Member, Mrs. Backer, referred to my tenure at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – and I am very proud of my tenure there - and described my efforts at restructuring and trimming the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a disservice to that Ministry and, by extension, to the country. It is to be recalled that in the 1992 elections campaign, Dr. Cheddi Jagan committed himself to publicly reordering the budgetary and developmental priorities of the new government he would lead. In this regard, he showed where up to 1992, the PNC administration, in crafting a budget for the nation, established the following priorities. When we took office, government had allocated $1 billion or 3.2% of the national budget to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while, at the same time, only $1.3 billion or 4% was allocated to the entire security sector and, furthermore, only $1.4 billion or 4.6% of the budget was given to the entire social services sector: education, health, and social services. The very next year when Dr. Jagan took over his government, we reversed the trend. 6% of the budget went to social services; 4.6% went to the security sector; and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was adjusted to 1.8%. As the economy grew over the years, by 1999 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocation went back to $1.8 billion, over 2% of our budget which was still more than what was allocated in 1992. At the same time, we increased our investment in social services and security sector which grew by over 15% and 7% of the budget. And so it was important to recognise that from 1993 upwards the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continued to receive, increasingly, more and more resources under the PPP/C administration.
There was rather extravagance in those days at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. [Mrs. Backer: It was for good reason.] Of course it was for good reason. I do not want to burden the House with the reasons why, but we all know the reasons why. Here is a copy of a text. We did not have text in those days. We had telegrams in those days. Here is a copy of a telegram that was sent:
I think I know who the Frank is.
“Dear Frank, you can show them the PNC showed interest in China. It was to have a free and luxurious holiday for the family and friends. In June, 1984, Burnham paid a visit, taking over the Guyana Airways Plane for a delegation of 68, including his wife, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, his wife, the Vice President Shahabadeen and his wife, Minister of Health Van West Charles and his wife, a trip for wives to go shopping in exotic market places in Beijing.”
On 12th June, 1984 when many Guyanese went to bed hungry and the country was in bankruptcy, Mr. Burnham hosted a banquet in Beijing for his delegation of 68 plus no less than 10 coaches. Here is the menu: h’orderves, chicken soup with rice noodles, fish cake and fish choka, rice crush with three delicacies, labba in ginger sauce, roast turkey kebabs, curried labba, peas and rice – that is cook-up – garden salad, pastries, fruits, ice cream and pineapple. But here comes the thing – alcohol: one case metaxa. [Member: What is that?] Metaxa is one of the most exotic Greek coniacs and it is Metaxa five-star grand vine. That is the thing that tickles him when it goes down his back. I used to lime with the man; I know the man. One case Benedictine, brandy liqueur, one case black tower wine, 2 cases moskova vodka, Gordon’s dry gin...it is fantastic.
The resources that have been placed by the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Home Affairs are valued very much. And we see ourselves, in the security sector, using these resources in order to produce value for money.
Most of the arguments raised by the Opposition were basically of a political and technical nature, taken together with others such as: why was the project done this way? Why is so much money being spent on the project? What impact will the project have on the community? Are we getting value for money? Cumulatively, these queries beg the questions: who are we measuring our successes and challenges against? Who are we measuring our opportunities and fortunes against? Is it Jamaica? Is it Barbados? Is it Trinidad and Tobago? Is it beyond CARICOM? We need to look at our means to earn and from that perspective measure our capacity to provide the goods and services as a qualitative and sustainable balance. On balance, a greater appreciation of the reality must lie with the Government since it is the Government that must govern in an even-handed manner less it commits the act of shooting itself in the foot and, as a consequence, suffering a loss of confidence by the electorate which would cost it the Government itself.
To conclude, this debate is but a mere routine following the Annual Budget Presentation. While it can be informative, educational, spirited, and, at times, lack lustre, it is pleasurable but painful an experience we must go through. I have sit and listened to my comrades speak on this side of the House. Also, I have listened to the representatives of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC). It is not my intention to be bias here, but all things being equal I have to conclude that all those who spoke from the Government benches divulged a considerable amount of information about the sectors in which they are involved. Thus, a careful examination of these contributions, taken together, can provide any uninformed person with a wealth of information about what the Government is doing. It can always help the sceptic who may be desirous of verifying what is going on in the ground to do so.
This brings me to a very important question. Assuming that the joint Opposition has already formulated a strategic approach to the Estimates, which we are to consider in a few days time, I have often wondered during the course of this debate, whether these presentations from the Government side have helped the Opposition, in any way, to form a better appreciation and have given them greater insights as regards the challenges. Or is it a case where their minds are already made up? Talk as much as they wish, we have to do what we have to do. And that this is the Opposition’s moment of glory; it is now or never. Is this the next scenario that awaits us?
I thank you Mr. Speaker. [Applause]